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Summary: Paul had an open door of OPPORTUNITY. There were many OBSTACLES. God helped him to OVERCOME! Link included to Formatted Text version, Handout, and PowerPoint Presentation.

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Tearing Down the Temples of Hell

Acts 19:8-27

Paul stayed in Ephesus for 3 full years…not his normal pattern. There was much work to be done there, and w/ a pop. of 300,000 people, it was the capital of the Roman province of Asia.

1. Paul’s opportunity

I Cor. 16:8-9

But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. [9] For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

That door is a door of opportunity…he had a tremendous chance that he couldn’t pass up. And we have such an opportunity here in our city.

Ephesus was a city of great wickedness, and the people had morals like animals. It was a place of spiritual darkness, and Paul brought them the glorious light of the gospel.

Paul saw this place of darkness as a place of opportunity, because he had the opposite philosophy of many of us here today…

…Christians today don’t want to be in a dark place…they look for the nearest exit, wanting only to be in the well lit areas. “There’s so many lost people where I work…I’ve got to get out of there!”

Did it ever occur to you that’s why God put you there…because it’s a dark place? The Bible says that you are the light of the world…what better place to put a light than in a dark room.

If light bulbs could talk: “put me anyplace but in a dark room”. I would say to that light bulb, “then what value are you? What purpose can you serve?”

Now, we shouldn’t want to go to places that will drag us down, or seek out places where we will be tempted, but God doesn’t want us to be hermits, either…we are to be IN the world, just not OF it. And God has placed us right at the door…a door of opportunity. Question is: will we walk thru it?

The darker the room, the more our light will be seen. Your light doesn’t stand out here in this auditorium, filled with other lights…but at your workplace, just walk thru that door and you can be a heavenly beam that all eyes will focus on, seeing the light in your eyes and wanting to step into that light themselves!

Paul wanted to stay until Pentecost. Why? Because at that time…around May…was the Artemesian Games. And the whole Roman Empire would be coming to town. He saw it as an opportunity. Now I don’t like crowds too much, but I should!

Ill.—Ron Reilly’s Daytona Beach witnessing project. They go to a dark place and their light shines and they see hundreds saved each spring break!

v. 10 Look at what happened in just 2 years time. Every single person heard the Word. Not all got saved, but all had the opportunity…because Paul saw a door of opportunity and walked thru it!

2. Paul’s opposition

This was a wicked city…so would it surprise you if I said it was a very religious city? It shouldn’t…for religion is one of the main tools in the devil’s shed!

Paul had to deal with at least 3 kinds of religion in that region:

• Inadequate religion

v. 8 Paul always took the gospel to the Jews first. For 3 months in their synagogue he showed them that their religion was inadequate. Their OT teachings had a purpose…to point them to their coming Messiah…but he had come, Jesus Christ, and they had missed Him…they had rejected Him…they had killed Him!

Their religion was just an empty shell…a hull w/ no kernel of reality inside. Don’t ask people if they’ve found religion, ask them if they’ve found Jesus!

And all over our city people are steeped in religion that’s inadequate. On the outside they may dress fancy and look proper, but inside are dead men’s bones and the meat of the gospel has never grown there. They are social clubs and promote being good people and basically, they are making the world a better place to go to hell from! That’s inadequate!

Paul said, don’t be satisfied with empty ritual when you can have a vital, thriving relationship w/ the Son of God, Jesus Christ!

Some got saved, most did not, and after 3 months they kicked him out of the synagogue.

v. 9 Paul now moved his base of operations from the synagogue to the schoolroom. This was a well-known school and evidently they rented it in the off hours.

So, he first dealt with inadequate religion…

• Imitation religion

v. 11-12 This was not the norm and not intended for us to try to duplicate today. Throughout the book of Acts God did special miracles at special times to validate the truth.

Paul was a tentmaker in a hot climate. His clothes would be sweaty. He would wipe his brow w/ handkerchiefs. And they noticed that if the sick or possessed came into contact w/ such they would be healed.

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